There are many examples of exceptional presidential leadership in American political history. Ronald Reagan is the most iconic figure of the Republican Party, and stands as an example of greatness for both liberals and conservatives. While Reagan’s popularity may not be in question, some academics assert that Reagan’s legacy was not a long lasting agent of unification for the Republican Party. Historian Gil Troy advocates the idea that conservative unification brought on by the Reagan, was a “fleeting alliance, not an enduring coalition.”
Mr. Troy bases this claim on an increasing trend of liberalization in American politics. Troy emphasizes on the stance that conservatives were, “unable to consistently convert favorable public sentiment into legislative victories or effectively change or form public opinion. While once can accept the growing trend of liberalization in American politics, to discredit the effect Ronald Reagan had on the Republic Party would be a misrepresentation if historical events.
Conservatism in 80’s was defined by the rise of the Christian right, as well as the Reagan Revolution. This revolution was coined in recognition of the political shift in favor of conservative policy, both at home and abroad. Reagan’s strong stance against communism, support of supply-side economics, lowering taxes, and popularized traditionalism created a platform that the Republican Party would run off of for the next three decades.
To say that the conservative platform of traditionalism (that stemmed from the Reagan Revolution) is fighting a growing trend of liberalization of political ideology has merit when developing a historical representation of American politics. But this is a completely separate notion than the extent to which Reagan’s legacy unified specifically conservative demographics.
When analyzing polls of the republican primaries through-out the 80’s and 90’s, a clear trend in favor of Reaganesque conservatism (whatever candidate is waving that banner at the time). Those Republican’s that are endorsed by Reagan, have greater success in the primaries (i.e. George H.W. Bush 1988 & 1982, Bob Doll, and George W. Bush)
A majority of creditable polls show republican voters unified behind one nomination in all of the primaries following Reagan’s presidency. These trends do not support the idea that the unification of the Republican Party behind the Reagan campaign was simply a “fleeting alliance.”